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History of Poland, from the very beginning

March 10, 2017
By LARRY?BAUGHMAN - President of the Poland Historical Society , Special to the Town Crier

Poland Township was the first township surveyed in the Connecticut Western Reserve and was designated as Town 1, Range 1 (T1R1). The Connecticut Land Co. surveyed each township to a size of 5 miles on each side, approximately 16,000 acres.

In 1776, the American colonies renounced their allegiance to the British king and assumed a free and independent state. Connecticut was chartered western land that included parts of Pennsylvania and lands west of the Pennsylvania border. The land west of Pennsylvania was referred to as the Connecticut Western Reserve or often called "New" Connecticut.

On May 30, 1801, Connecticut ceded to the United States all her jurisdictional claims of the Connecticut Western Reserve.

The state of Connecticut formed the Connecticut Land Co. to survey and sell parcels of this land to settlers who moved west. A surveying party led by Moses Cleaveland left Connecticut in May 1796 and arrived at the mouth of Conneaut Creek, near the northwest stone marker of Pennsylvania July 4, 1796.

On July 23, 1796, surveyors Augustus Porter and Seth Pease set a post to mark the southeast corner of the Connecticut Western Reserve, 68 miles from Lake Erie. This also marked the southeast corner of Poland Township (T1R1).

In May 1798, Turhand Kirtland, a land agent with the Connecticut Land Co., arrived in northeastern Connecticut Western Reserve and began to survey and sell lots in the Cleveland, Burton and Kirtland townships to the new settlers. He purchased many lots for himself in the Reserve, including those in Poland.

Kirtland documented in a diary his activities and travels over three years throughout the Reserve.

A 1798 entry by Kirtland follows: "Thursday, August 2 - I set out with Esq. Law and six men - Byington, Brooks, Mathews, and Pond, with L. and E. Fowler for No. 1 to survey it ..."

Poland Township was then called Town 1 Range 1 or just No. 1 and later Fowler's Place. Another example of what townships were called as they were developed is Youngstown Township, which was named for founder John Young and at that time was called Young's Town, Town 2 Range 2 or No. 2.

The first family that settled in Poland Township was Jonathan and Lydia Fowler.

Quotes from Kirtland's diary in 1799: "Monday, May 20 ".... at Evoning Br. Jonathan Fowler arrived in the canoe and I took my wagon and carried him down to No. 1; built up a fire and staid all night" (on the bank of Yellow Creek behind Dr. Truesdale's house at 14 Water St.). Kirtland often called Jonathan "brother," even though he was his brother-in-law.

"Saturday, October 19 - I went on to No. I to Fowlers; found that Mr. Struthers had come that day with his family."

Although John Struthers had bought 400 acres along Yellow Creek from Kirtland in 1798, he did not bring his family to settle in Poland Township until October 1799. Jonathan and Lydia Fowler's daughter, Rachel, was the first white child born in Poland Township in February 1800. John Struthers son, Ebenezer, was the first white male born in Poland Township in August 1800.

Jonathan Fowler began the settlement of what would become the village of Poland, which was incorporated in 1866. He built a saw mill and grist mill on Yellow Creek in 1801. He built and lived in Fowler's Tavern (Old Stone Tavern) in 1804 and this marvelous old building still stands in Poland today.

Poland became the southern gateway to the Western Reserve. From Pittsburgh, people would follow the Ohio, Beaver and Mahoning Rivers and arrive at the Fowler's Tavern to stay the night, before continuing on to Youngstown, Warren or Cleveland.

In April 1806, Jonathan Fowler drowned in the Beaver River at the falls while traveling on one of his trips to New Orleans for merchandise trade.

Another early community in the center of the township was Poland Center, located at Struthers Road and Route 224.

From Kirtland's diary in 1799: "Friday, June 21 - I went to cut a road from Fowlers to the center of No. I with Doolittle and Law." This indicates the beginning of connecting communities of early pioneer life. Many townships have "Center" as part of their community names. The early setters would build at the township center so that no one would have to travel more than 2.5 miles to get to businesses or activities such as church and school.

In the very early 1800s, Poland Center had a school, Presbyterian church, cemetery, "Magill Tavern" and a post office. Now, all that is left from the past is the Poland Center Cemetery and the Little Red Schoolhouse built in 1858, which is the current home of the Poland Historical Society.

Poland has retained its quaint colonial appearance, which was established by the New England settlers who brought their heritage and culture with them. More than 75 buildings built in the 19th century display a plaque documenting their historic status.

Poland's excellent schools have existed from the beginning. The prominent family of 25th President William McKinley moved from Niles to Poland in 1852 because of the reputation of excellent schools, when young William was 9 years old.

Today, as you enter Poland, you will find beautiful Peterson Park, which contains a clock tower and statues of Revolutionary War heroes, Thaddeus Kosciuszko and Casimir Pulaski.

Kirtland and Jonathan Fowler decided to name the community "Poland" in honor of the heroes country of birth.

The Poland Historical Society has published a set of history books, "Poland Historical Highlights 1796 - 1966" and "Poland Historical Highlights 1966 - 2016" for $10 and $15, respectively.

Contact the society by emailing phs@polandtownship.com or calling 330-536-6877, or purchase the books at the Village Pantry or Trolio's in Poland.

 
 

 

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